As an adoptive mother, I have strong, positive feelings for birth mothers everywhere. I love them and admire them and think they are angels. Although I don’t know firsthand what it’s like to place a child for adoption, I’ve often imagined it. For those who placed in a closed adoption, many of the feelings must be magnified. The sense of loss, not even knowing anything about the child, his life, his personality, his situation, must be immense.

And so, as the years pass and thoughts of reunification creep in, they are often silenced because of a fear of rejection. Does she hate me and feel like I abandoned her? What have her parents told her about me? Will she be disgusted with who I was then and who I am now? I’ve heard those and other similar thoughts from birth mothers over time. Their fear of rejection has caused many of them to suspend a search and just wait it out.

In our case, our son’s birth mother never changed her maiden name in the hopes that someday he might want to know her. It turned out that keeping her maiden name did indeed help in the search. Yet all she could muster up for 20+ years was a passive waiting. Actively searching for him was out of the question. The fear of rejection was too great.

The truth is, many birth parents experience fear of rejection regardless of the type of adoption they are involved in (open or closed). What can we do to help?

Well, as adoptive parents, we can raise our children to admire, love, and be grateful for their birth parents. How we feel about their birth parents will be reflected in their feelings as they’re growing up and when they become adults. As adoptees, we can realize that adoption takes place because of love. Regardless of our birth parents’ reasons for placing, we can rest assured that the maternal and paternal feelings are tender. As we approach reunion, feeding our birth parents plenty of words of affirmation, the fear will diminish and they may begin to feel confident and courageous in their quest to know their child.